The essential log pile
If you are going to make your garden into a wildlife garden one of the essentials is a rotting log pile. Aaahh! I hear you say in horror if you are one of those who like to keep a nice tidy garden and who are out every weekend digging up the weeds.
How do I start it?
So, how do you make a rotting log pile you may ask, it isn’t exactly something which will happen overnight. A proper rotting log pile will take a few years to mature but you can hurry it along a little by finding some already rotting branches and introducing them to your garden. The best place to find these is in a wood (but before taking any make sure you have permission from the wood owner). Now some people may not agree with me when I suggest you take already rotting wood from where it was in a natural wood, but I don’t think it will do any harm if only a small amount is taken, and it is for a very good cause. Before you go to find some wood decide where in the garden you will put it. An unused corner is a good idea but don’t forget you will be adding more and more as time goes on, so make sure there is room to expand it. I think an ideal size for a log is about 4”-6” (100mm – 150mm) diameter and about 4’ (1200mm) long. This is a good size because anything larger will be a bit heavy to carry and anything much smaller will just be a twig pile.
To start with, place your most rotten logs on the ground, then pile anything else you can find on top, you have now started your log pile. By using logs that are already rotting you are also introducing the insects and beetle larva already in the rotten logs into your garden and so starting a cycle of new life. In time the new logs you add will also rot down and you will have created a new wildlife habitat.
Why is it so important?
You have probably heard of ‘the food chain’. Well the food chain starts off with very small things which are eaten by bigger things which are in turn eaten by even bigger things which are in turn eaten by even BIGGER things. By adding a rotting log pile you are adding the first link in the chain – rotting material. This will attract insects and in turn the insects will attract birds which feed on insects which will attract bigger birds which feed on small birds – we don’t want many of the latter though!
I love watching my log pile closely armed with my camera fitted with a macro lens for taking close-up shots. Some say I should get a life, but this is what I love doing and I wouldn’t swap it for their’s any day soon! Apart from my main log pile I have other rotting logs around the garden and they add a rich habitat when they become covered in moss and other small plants.
As autumn approaches and falling leaves start to cover the damp ground, new life will start to spring forth from those decaying logs. Fungi will start to grow out from the wood and because of the constant damp a carpet of different kinds of mosses will start to cover them adding another mini habitat for insects. So as you can see, a rotting log pile can be an important addition to your wildlife garden.
Click on pictures below to enlarge (only when NOT in slideshow mode).